Tuesday 3 May 2022

Five Poems by Peter O'Neill



 The Iveagh Gardens


Under the seclusion of the Horse Chestnuts,

We walked, closely together, across the stony paths

On the lookout for a free public bench.


Birdsong alternated from a multiplicity of stations

Gently adding to the atmosphere of general peace and calm.

We had quit the streets seeking this kind of shelter.


You wore black leather boots and jacket which you had

Complemented artistically with matching mascara.

Your eyes, ever searching, quizzed me unequivocally.


There we sat, closely together, two former colleagues

Discussing work matters. Both of us sharing the self-

Same profession; Teachers of English to Students of Other Languages.


Yet, you now were sick of it and wanted to go into management.

I sat there admiringly, willing to work for you.



Easter 2022


After Carol Guzy –

Pulitzer Prize winning photographer


The indignity was raised like a statue on a battered door

High above the town square for all to see.

Trousers sagging just above the knee revealed

A pair of boxers, shirt half pulled up showing a torso.


Arms thrown back in a sign of complete resignation

To the abandonment of the body, now this corpse,

Mouth sagging agape, eyes near plucked out, yet the spirit,

That invisible structure they had no hope of capturing alive,


 Having long ago given up the ghost. So, you’d properly ask

Yourself, what was the point? This final indignity,

In the end, was whose? and for whom?


Getting no answer, we simply stared at the crane gently

Transporting the spectacle across our field of vision,

Like some eery effigy, a testament then to the human.




Homer’s original cave, the cyclopean lair, IS

The original Grand Design for all humanity.

The breach myopic signals both content and form;

The skewered vision blinded by Nobody!


Plato’s is wholly in accordance, he imagines

The human odyssey – as if they’d never escaped!

Sad Odysseus eternally fire-bound contemplating

The silhouettes flickering upon the cave wall.


Lucretius, then, listening in the echo chamber

Perceiving the pin-dropping from the Heraclitean fire,

And in one memorable phrase describes education.


I have become that most horrendous thing, Learned.

When I look to the sky, instead of seeing unlimited horizon,

I merely perceive the brutal calculations.   



Made in Italy


You are the one who made me really appreciate coffee,

As I am Irish, so that is really saying something.

You are also the one who made me reappraise my thoughts

On cabbage; cavolo nero and even royal Savoy!


You are the one who even made me love bankers,

Being the daughter of one, I gave you my bank card

And for the first time in my life, I have a bit of money.

 I am paying out every month helping to maintain a steady mortgage.


You are the one whom I have returned to every Friday,

Instead of staying behind in the pub to sip cheap beer,

I have returned for twenty or so year, to eat homemade pizza!


You are the one who has even given me a daughter

Who looks at me through your eyes, which make mine almost water.

 Sure, you are even the one who had me read Dante Alighieri.



The Rebel


The wine seeps onto your tongue like rain upon the dry plains,

Its bitter fruit takes away with it, at every sip, the deep stains

On your life like your inflamed colon, a testament or sign

Of your chronic illness – call it living.


Mind and gut in such close synchronicity that each step

You take comes with an apparent tremendous effort,

And you past caring now at the effects of the wine,

It being your last comfort, or solace, bringing you some relief


From the constant upset. Not at all trying to sound self-pitying,

These words of yours more a chronicle of your anxiety;

You being in the deep plains of middle age,


Estranged from all of your family and at war, practically,

With your own cuntry. Yet despite all of this, you still manage

To smile sardonically at the stain that you have managed to leave behind.

Peter O’Neill is the author of six collections of poetry, the most recent Henry Street Arcade ( Éditions du Pont de l’Europe, 2021) was translated into French by the poet Yan Kouton and was launched as part of the bicentenary celebrations for Charles Baudelaire ( 1821-1867) as part of the Alliance Francaise celebrations in Dublin. He headlined the spring issue of Pratik with his fellow team of poets and translators who appeared altogether in a virtual day- long celebration of the French icon. He has also translated The Enemy – Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing, 2015) and has written a hybrid novella More Micks than Dicks ( Famous Seamus, 2017) which is a satirical account of his time presenting at  international Beckett conferences. As well as French, his writing has been translated into German, Italian, Arabic and most recently Spanish. He has a degree in philosophy and a masters in comparative literature ( DCU). He lives in Dublin with his family where he Teaches English as a Foreign Language.



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